"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Still deadly, but people live longer with pancreatic cancer

January 19, 2024 – Pancreatic cancer stays the third leading reason behind cancer death within the U.S., but persons are living longer with the disease, in accordance with a promising recent report from the American Cancer Society.

Over the past 20 years, the five-year survival rate for individuals with pancreatic cancer has increased doubled and is now at 13%. The devastating disease is often diagnosed in late stages when the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to other parts of the body, making treatment very difficult. The improved short-term survival rate suggests that, like many other cancers, detection and treatment is improving.

“Work on improved treatment options remains critical, particularly for people diagnosed with later-stage disease, but we recognize the value of earlier detection through these improvements in survival,” said Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, Chief Science Officer on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, in a Press release.

The latest detailed publication from the American Cancer Society US cancer statistics announced the promising news that overall mortality rates from cancer are decreasing. However, if we glance specifically at pancreatic cancer, the variety of cases diagnosed annually continues to rise and the mortality rate from pancreatic cancer also continues to rise.

In 2024, 66,440 persons are expected to be newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 51,750 people will die from the disease. These sobering numbers contrast with other, more detectable and treatable cancers comparable to breast cancer, where greater than 313,000 persons are diagnosed annually, but fewer than 43,000 people die from breast cancer annually.

The pancreas situated behind the stomach and produces digestive enzymes and hormones. With pancreatic cancer, symptoms typically only appear within the later stages of the disease. These symptoms may include weight reduction, stomach pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, or gastrointestinal problems. These symptoms may be confused with other medical conditions, notes a Summary the disease from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“We are on a promising path,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which calls itself PanCAN. “The PanCAN community has reason to celebrate – each of you has contributed to the upward trend we are seeing. The future looks bright as we continue to make progress for people with pancreatic cancer and their families.”